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Menopause Worse for African American Women

More Hot Flashes for African American Women


Updated July 12, 2004

Do African American women experience menopause differently from Caucasian women? The answer is yes, according to the January/February 2001 issue of Menopause, the Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

This conclusion was reached as a result of a study that included 436 women aged 35 to 47, who were randomly identified and qualified by phone. The women were equally divided as 218 African American and 218 white women. Included were a group 308 women who enrolled and completed daily symptom reports(DSR) for a period of one menstrual cycle. Women who currently used hormones including birth control pills, who were pregnant, or breastfeeding were not qualified for the study. Information from which data was obtained included structured interviews and self-administered standard questionnaires.

A significantly higher number (46 percent) of African American women said they experienced menopausal symptoms while only 30 percent of white women said they had experienced symptoms of menopause. African American women who completed daily symptom reports also reported significantly more physiological symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, dizziness, poor coordination and/or clumsiness, urine leakage, and vaginal dryness compared to the white women who completed the DSR. Another finding of the study found that symptoms particularly hot flashes increased with age in African American women, while white women reported a decrease in menopausal symptoms with age.

African American women who experienced menopause resulting from hysterectomy experienced more hot flashes than white women, regardless of weight or whether the women used hormone replacement therapy.

Psychological symptoms were not affected by either race or age.

Somatic symptoms which included swelling/ weight gain, appetite changes, breast tenderness, aches, and headaches were highest among women of both races who were 45 to 47 years old, and were not significantly affected by race. Other factors which increased the rate of somatic symptoms included poorer physical health and longer cycle lengths.

Another result of the study concluded something that many of us already know:

Women experience the symptoms of menopause long before any noticeable changes occur in the menstrual cycle.

Perimenopause is real! And it comes earlier than previously thought.

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